Information operations

Information Peddling 101

English: 101st Information Operations Flight
101st Information Operations Flight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Information Operations?  Yes, my grammar is correct, it is not “are”.  IO is a term meaning an integrating strategy.

Almost anyone working in Information Operations will discover that IO cannot exist without Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication (no s).   Even shallow research will uncover that IO, SC and PD are vastly misunderstood, even by their own practitioners and especially by their overall boss, the US government.  In a nutshell we all work to “inform” other countries.  That’s the easy part of what we do.  But “why” do we do it?  Look at the name of my blog, anyone who denies that what we do is meant to influence others is either naive to the extreme or ignorant. But, to say we are professional influencers flies in the face of political correctness.   I’m reminded of the saying “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail” (Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson.  So we’re professional informers.

Anyone attempting to define IO in their own terms will discover what they say will fly in the face of about a dozen different IO organizations.  I’ve been part of a few different IO definition efforts, resulting in different definitions.

Please look at the definitions below.  There are a ton of related and supporting definitions, those are for another time.

Here are the latest definitions of IO, SC, PD and a few others.

  • New Definition of IO, Source: SECDEF 25 JAN 2011 Memo:  Strategic Communication and Information Operations
    • The integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.
  • The original definition of Public Diplomacy, Source: National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) -77  (1983)
    • Those actions of the U.S. government designed to generate support among foreign audiences for our national security objectives.
  • Public diplomacy, Culture and Security blog, IWP
    • 1. Those overt international public information activities of the United States Government designed to promote United States foreign policy objectives by seeking to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences and opinion makers, and by broadening the dialogue between American citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad.
    • 2. In peace building, civilian agency efforts to promote an understanding of the reconstruction efforts, rule of law, and civic responsibility through public affairs and international public diplomacy operations. Its objective is to promote and sustain consent for peace building both within the host nation and externally in the region and in the larger international community.
  • Public diplomacy Jill A. Schuker (former Senior Director for Public Affairs at the National Security Council)
    • Effectively communicating with publics around the globe – to understand, value and even emulate America’s vision and ideas; historically one of America’s most effective weapons of outreach, persuasion and policy.
  • Public Diplomacy, Alan K. Henrikson, Professor of Diplomatic History, April 2005
    • Public diplomacy may be defined, simply, as the conduct of international relations by governments through public communications media and through dealings with a wide range of nongovernmental entities (political parties, corporations, trade associations, labor unions, educational institutions, religious organizations, ethnic groups, and so on including influential individuals) for the purpose of influencing the politics and actions of other governments.
  • Public Diplomacy, Crocker Snow Jr, Acting Director, Edward R. Murrow Center, May 2005
    • Public diplomacy that traditionally represents actions of governments to influence overseas publics within the foreign policy process has expanded today – by accident and design – beyond the realm of governments to include the media, multinational corporations, NGO’s and faith-based organizations as active participants in the field.
  • Strategic communication (official US definition), National Framework for Strategic Communication, March 2010
    • The synchronization of our words and deeds as well as deliberate efforts to communicate and engage with intended audiences.
  • British definition of SC, Strategic Communication: A Primer, CDR Steven Tatham, PhD, December 2008
    • A systematic series of sustained and coherent activities, conducted across strategic, operational and tactical levels, that enables understanding of target audiences, identifies effective conduits, and develops and promotes ideas and opinions through those conduits to promote and sustain particular types of behaviour.
  • Military Information Support Operations, which used to be called Psychological Operations, Source: Strategic Influence Operations, The Information Connection, Colonel Brad Wars, US Army War College, 2003.
    • …actions taken to influence the emotions,attitudes and ultimately the behavior of a target audience
  • Information intervention, Source: Metzl, Jamie (1997) Information Intervention: When Switching Channels Isn’t Enough. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 6, 15-20
    • Information intervention mechanism within the UN rapid deployment force to counter “situations where media activities incite mass violence”
  • Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy lumped together, Source: Strategic Communication Science and Technology Plan, Director Defense Research and Engineering, Rapid Reaction technology Office, April 2009
    • Programs to understand, inform, engage and influence the attitudes and behavior of foreign opinion leaders and publics.
  • Old definition of IO that caused so many problems, Source: Special Forces Guide to Information Operations, Training Circular No. 31-50-1, November 2009.  This used to be in Joint Pub 3-13, a major rewrite is on its way.
    • The integrated employment of the core capabilities of EW, CNO, PSYOP,MILDEC, and OPSEC, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision makingwhile protecting our own.
  • Global Engagement, Global Engagement Caucus, May 8 2012, Matt Armstrong
    • Global engagement goes by various names, each denoting a different kind of engagement: public diplomacy, strategic communication, educational exchange, foreign aid, and development.
  • Public Affairs (PA), in DoDD 3600.1, Information Operations, 23 May 2011
    • PA, as a function of command, shall support the continuing public information and communication requirements of the DoD. PA activities contribute to the broader U.S. Government communications effort by providing truthful, accurate and timely information to the public, the domestic and international media, military members, and their families. PA shall provide operational capabilities to communicate military objectives, counter misinformation and disinformation, deter adversary actions, and maintain the trust and confidence of the U.S. population, as well as our friends and allies. Effective military operations shall be based on credibility and shall not focus on directing or manipulating U.S. public actions or opinion.
  • Intelligence Support, in DoDD 3600.1, Information Operations, 23 May 2011
    • Intelligence shall be developed, consistent with the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, to provide data about adversary information systems or networks; produce political-military assessments; conduct human factors analysis; and provide indications and warning of adversary IO, including threat assessments.

While not a definition from which we derive a working definition of IO, we MUST understand atmospherics.  We must know if we are reaching our intended audience.

  • Atmospherics.
    • Information regarding the surrounding or pervading mood, environment, or influence on a given population.

One last item we must push for is Measures of Effectiveness (as opposed to Measures of Performance).  I don’t have a working definition of the top of my head but MOE determine how efficient our efforts are versus measuring just what we do.  Such as (if I have a base for comparison): there was a 8% rise in positive feelings towards the US.  Not: we broadcast 115 hours per month.

Bottom line: What we do is about influence, plain and simple.  But in order not to scare off the wusses (a highly technical term) I must say that what we do is to inform foreign audiences.  But informing without atmospherics and measures of effectiveness is a huge waste of money.  In this day and age we need to inform and measure – wisely.

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